Hi all! We recently got a chance to travel to the beautiful Orcas Island – the biggest among the San Juan islands located in the northwestern corner of Washington state just before you cross the waters to Canada. I’m not sure if anybody has ever called the San Juan islands the Northern Hawaii, but in case no one has, I’m going to go ahead and do that. If you’ve been to both, you’ll understand my point: both have beautiful scenery, lots of opportunities for outdoor activities, and a relaxed vibe that erases any tension in your soul built up by the daily grind.
Baby J and I are exploring the Cascade Lake in Moran State Park
Rob and I have always loved these little getaways within driving distance of our home, but ever since we had baby J, planning trips has been challenging. We decided to give it a try anyway. We made sure to pack everything we needed for her comfort (plenty of diapers, a pack-n-play, a white noise machine, etc. – it was easy to pack a lot of stuff because we were going there in our car). In the end, all three of us had a lovely time!
Orcas Island has a more rural atmosphere than the other San Juan islands, but at the same time it has lots of world-class tourist attractions and private resorts. We enjoyed hiking in Moran State Park – the island’s biggest state park and home of Mt. Constitution, the tallest mountain on the San Juan islands. We took lots of drives, exploring all the hidden gems of this place (it also helped that baby J took her best daytime naps in the car). And of course, we loved exploring vegan food options on Orcas, which were surprisingly easy to find in this rural place in the off-season.
A little creek in the Moran State Park – the spawning ground for Kokanee salmon, a land-locked type of salmon that lives in the Cascade Lake
View from the ferry dock in Orcas Village
Baby J and I are checking out the waterfront in Eastsound – the largest (but still pretty small) town on Orcas Island
Vegan Eats on Orcas Island
We didn’t do much planning before this trip, which goes against my own vegan traveling rules that I described in this post. When you have an active 5 month-old baby who refuses to take any naps during the day, you often end up flying by the seat of your pants and hoping for the best 🙂
Thankfully, we discovered that a lot of restaurants and stores on Orcas offer vegan food options. We had the best luck in the city of Eastsound – the biggest town on the island. Despite the fact that we arrived at Orcas during the midweek in the off-season, we were still able to have decent vegan meals.
Note: All of the restaurants and stores listed below are non-vegan but offer vegan options.
The Island Market
469 Market St., Eastsound
The Island Market in the center of Eastsound is a full-service grocery store that provided us with breakfast essentials and snacks. Their apricot and pistachio muesli soaked in almond milk overnight made a great breakfast. We also got cinnamon raisin bagels and peanut butter, hummus and pita chips, some fruit and chocolate, which covered all of our snacking needs in between meals. In addition to a nice produce department with reasonably priced fruits and vegetables, this grocery store also offered a good-sized selection of vegan foods like Califia Farms cold brew coffees, Field Roast burgers, tofu, Daiya salad dressings, etc.
274 A Street, Eastsound
The first night after we arrived at Orcas, we decided to try out the much-rumoured vegan pizza at Pizzeria Portofino. The place had an impressive menu with an add-on salad bar option. We decided to try their veggie pizza with Daiya cheese. I’m usually not a fan of Daiya, but this pizza turned out to be just what we needed.
My picks at Pizzeria Portofino’s salad bar
This huge pizza was loaded with tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, peppers and onions, and had a perfectly crispy crust. We ended up taking a sizeable part of it back to the hotel, where it made a nice dinner the night before we left.
Orcas Food Co-op
138 North Beach Rd, Eastsound
This wasn’t the biggest of the co-ops I’ve seen here in the Northwestern Washington, but it had a nice selection of fresh produce, prepared lunch options, etc. Rob and I went for the sandwich + chips + drink special that ran $10.99. We both got the Crescent Beach sandwich – the only ready-to-go vegan sandwich option available that day. It had a generous slab of Thai-style tofu, and was garnished with spinach, onions, cucumber slices and pickled carrots. It was tasty and quite filling, but I found it a bit dry. I would have added some avocado slices if I was making it.
The Crescent Beach sandwich at the Orcas Food Co-op in Eastsound
249 Prune Alley, Eastsound
Just a stone’s throw away from the co-op we found The Kitchen – a casual eatery with “lots of vegan options”, as the nice folks who work there told me on the phone when I called them to ask about their menu. They weren’t lying: the menu allows for lots of vegan combinations, as you can add tofu or tempeh to make your own plate, bowl or wrap (see the menu pic below). I probably would have eaten there four times if our visit was any longer just to sample all the sauces and broths.
The sign leading you towards The Kitchen
The menu at The Kitchen restaurant
My plate from The Kitchen with baby J’s hand photobombing 🙂
Both Rob and I went for the plate combination of brown rice, tofu, seasonal vegetables, and peanut-lime-miso sauce. I also got a ginger beer – the non-alcoholic drink that I fell in love with during pregnancy, and now order whenever I see it on the menu. The food was delicious, but both of us thought that the servings could have been a bit bigger. It’s quite possible that we were just extra hungry from all of the explorations of the day though.
Mijitas Mexican Kitchen
310 A Street, Eastsound
Another lucky find right next door to The Kitchen was Mijitas – a casual Mexican restaurant with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. The nice lady at the counter said that they usually have more vegan options for dinner, but since we stopped by during lunchtime, she still hooked us up with giant veggie burritos. Pinto beans, perfectly seasoned Mexican rice, guacamole and pico de gallo wrapped in a huge tortilla – I swear my belly was singing from happiness as I scarfed it down. No picture of the burrito here because baby J was prancing in my lap while I ate, but you’ll have to take my word – that burrito was epic!
Rob and I have been pretty disappointed with Mexican food in Washington state, but after eating at Mijitas we joked that it took us to get to a tiny town tucked away on an island in Puget Sound to finally find great Mexican cuisine.
So this has been our experience with vegan food in restaurants on Orcas Island. Because we were trying to follow baby J’s early bedtime schedule, we didn’t go to any of the fancier dinner restaurants that apparently can make you vegan food off the menu if you call in advance. My request: if you ever go to Orcas Island and have a nice vegan meal somewhere else, please let me know!
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